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How to Read a Photo of a Crowded Street

Read Time: 3 mins

In this series we dissect photographs collected by the writers and editors here at Envato Tuts+ to take a closer look at how and why they work as photographic compositions. We hope these pictures inspire and empower your own visual communication.

Today's Image: Crowd Walking on Street. This image is by dotshock and it's available on Envato Elements.

Crowd Walking on StreetCrowd Walking on StreetCrowd Walking on Street
Crowd Walking on Street.

A Closer Look at This Image

Images of crowds are strange: they’re both something and nothing. Whether a picture of a group of people is appealing can depend on a number of different factors; we’ll look at some of those here.


By perspective in this instance I mean yours, not that of the photograph. How do you feel about crowds? Does it make you think of a thriving city, fun things to do and excitement? Or, does it make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps claustrophobic? How you feel about crowded places might directly affect how you read the image.

We can have extreme reactions to crowds and although this image puts us right in the middle of one, the added height we have from the dip in the street means we can see right over heads and quite far into the distance. This goes some way to help resolving any uncomfortable feelings we might have looking at this picture; it gives you breathing room.

Otherwise, the framing of this photograph reinforces the feeling of tightness. The photograph itself is crowded with detail. The photographer's use of a long lens compresses the scene even further, foreshortening the image to look as though everyone has jammed the street when they might all be relatively separate in space.

Depth of Field

Often we’re used to something being in focus in the foreground and the depth of field falling away the further back you go. It’s the opposite in this case, which I think adds a lot of interest to the photograph.

If you consider that everyone is walking or moving in some way, it makes the shot more impressive; were seeing depth of field / focus blur rather than motion blur.


There is strong back-lighting in this photo, and it is both directional and diffuse, which creates a lovely silhouetted glow on the people nearest the camera. The glow in the air creates a sense of volume to the air in the street.

More Questions than Answers

Where is this? Unless you’ve been there and you know, I don’t think it’s that obvious. There are no signs visible, so you can’t make out a language. Even though there are a lot of people, we’re seeing them from the back, so it’s hard to discern any kind of nationality.

This makes the picture intriguing, I want to know more. Is there a holiday or festival? I see banners and lights but they could be there to decorate the high street all the time. Who knows, and that’s the fun and appeal of this image to me.

How to Read a Photograph

We'd love to hear your take on this photograph, and if you're not sure where to begin, then How to Read a Photograph will get you started with how to analyse photography. Mostly, it's just saying what you see and how you feel about an image!


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